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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

It's My Birthday today

Wouldn't it be great if Agent 99 wrote me today to say that she loves my novel rewrite and wants to send the manuscript out to publishers next week for a fresh, crisp start to September? That would be my birthday wish. That, or world peace. Or maybe just a simple hope that everyone out there from the Eastern parts of the U.S. did okay in that hurricane. I don't know. I lose perspective sometimes. Maybe it doesn't matter so much if the thing gets published in my life time. Maybe the sheer fact of writing it is good enough. One thing's for sure: This writing life is testing my patience.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Form Letters that Raise Hopes (For A Little While)

 Dear -------, Thank you for sending your manuscript "XXXXXX," number ---- to us here at Crazyhorse via the online submission manager. Ultimately, the manuscript was not selected for publication, but we want you to know that we very much enjoyed reading your work. The manuscript was one of the best we've read recently. It was difficult to say no. We hope you will send us another manuscript to consider soon. Since we enjoyed this one, we hope to read more and to give your next manuscript our highest consideration. Yours, The Editors

[Comment by the receiver of this rejection: "I'm thick-skinned, but this one that was emailed on Saturday really got to me. I'm still at the stage of my career where I judge my successes by the quality of my failures-- and this was really just so unbelievable. When I first saw it, and for a half hour thereafter, I felt elated. And then I just got depressed. I couldn't write for maybe twelve hours. I just kept berating myself-- which is silly, no?-- but when you're butting your head against a brick wall, it's your head that suffers most."]

Friday, August 26, 2011

Viewer Call-In Question Time

Someone commenting on the blog wants to know:
Are you guys submitting your stories with cover letters? I never do unless it is explicitly asked for, but I wonder how many more acceptances (or nice rejections) I might get if I mentioned 3 little letters. Le sigh.

Answers, anybody?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

So, No Problem Then...

Hey, did you hear that the book industry is alive and kicking? Speaking of yesterday's Atlantic rejection, there's this recent article in said magazine that quotes a study that:
"...the publishing industry is healthy and growing during a time of unprecedented change... Publishers in every sector of our business have made significant investments in content and technology to better serve their audiences' needs and those efforts seem to correlate with the results we're seeing."

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Though your manuscript has not found a place with The Atlantic, we thank you for the chance to consider it. Best of luck placing it elsewhere. The Editors
Wrote the mouse who received the above rejection:
"I am really starting to hate this whole "best luck placing it elsewhere" thing. It's like one of those terrible breakups where they REALLY HOPE you meet someone...who really deserves you." 
Personally I don't try for The Atlantic anymore. I think of it as one of those dreams that the world quickly rips from your heart, replacing it with something more realistic, like war and poverty.  It's probably true that I have about as negative a chance of getting in The Atlantic as in the You-Know-Where.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Revise for Us!

I regret that these structural flaws prevent us from making an offer on [Title]. However, if you are willing to revise the manuscript, we would be interested in taking another look at it.
It's always tricky to know when to revise for someone. These people don't even tell you what they want, so that's either good or bad.  Not sure which is better.  The question is always whether or not to go down this path.  It's hard to remain confident after getting a note like this, but I always send it out to many places before taking it back and thinking long and hard about what to do next.  Sometimes, a revision is called for.  Other times you stick to your guns.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Funny, I'm Always Thinking of Opium

Thank you for sending us "Title of Story." Sorry to disappoint--as we really enjoyed this piece--but we didn't feel it was quite right for Opium Magazine. Do send us your next, best work. Thanks for thinking of Opium, (Editors)
Your next, best? Why yes, by all means, do.
BTW, headquarters location is in Brooklyn.
The very, very formal part of Brooklyn.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

200 Pages Once A Year....But Not Yours

Ah, college students. How innocent they are. Founding a literary journal at the University of Tennessee and learning to reject at an early age:
Thank you for sending your manuscript to us at Grist via the online submission manager. After careful consideration, we regret that this submission does not meet the editorial needs of the journal at this time. We do hope you will send to us again in the future as we could not publish Grist without the many quality submissions we receive. Although we would like to send an individual response to everyone, the number of manuscripts we receive makes it difficult for editors to respond personally to each submission. Please know that we are devoted to giving each submission to Grist at least three reads and an editor personally reads each submission. We do appreciate your interest in Grist, and the opportunity to consider your work. Thank your for supporting our journal with your writing, reading, and subscribing. Sincerely,____________________.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Literary Journal For the Mostly Alive

Oy...No kidding that you're killing me:
Hello [Name]: Thank you for considering kill author for your work. Having read "[story]," though there's an interesting idea at the center of the piece, we unfortunately don't think the story as a whole is quite suited to our journal, so we're going to pass on it. We wish you the best of luck with placing this work elsewhere. Do feel free to submit material to us again in the future if you think you have something suitable. Best, kill author

Friday, August 12, 2011

Ploughshares Redux

Let's do a mini retrospective on the esteemed journal. Compare this one to some of the other rejections from Ploughshares through the years:
We regret that your manuscript does not fit our current editorial needs, but we appreciated the opportunity to consider your work. Thanks very much for submitting. Sincerely, The Editors of Ploughshares
zzzzz....huh? Oh, sorry. Anyway, happy weekend, people.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Or They Might Simply Blow Up Your Manuscript

Here's some interesting rejection news from the Left Coast. The article title itself is a riot: Police Explode Briefcase Left for Literary Agent. What do you do when your agent sends your manuscript package to the police who explode it for safety reasons? My favorite line in the article is a quote from the agent: "This guy’s been kind of pestering me to read his stuff." The agent noted that he neither asked for nor wanted the briefcase. (Note to self: Don't pester agent.)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Why Do They Annoy Me So Much?

Is it the exclamation point? The assumption that we're all relative beginners (ain't that the truth)? Or the claim of being overworked (who isn't)?  Could be also that I once had a grouchy run in with one editrix who runs the operation there. I don't know; just don't love them or their train.

---------- Forwarded message from anonymous LROD mouse ----------
From: Glimmertrain
Subject: Your Submission

Dear Writer: Thank you for submitting "Title". While we won't be publishing this piece, we appreciated the opportunity to read your work! Because we read so many stories, it is
not possible for us to give specific feedback, but, if you're a relative beginner, you may find something of interest here

Glimmer Train
Press Reference#:XXXXX

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

And By "Editors," We Mean "Summer Interns"

Dear Writer:

The editors of Esquire appreciated the opportunity to read your work. We’re sorry to tell you that it does not fit our needs at this time. For future submissions, please keep the following in mind:

•Esquire is no longer accepting paper submissions. If you would like to submit a story for publication, please go to and do so electronically.

•We want stories that feel especially timely and urgent and speak to current events and the state of the world around us.

•We cannot consider stories longer than 5,000 words.

•We ask that you use 12-point font, double-spaced. Verdana or Times New Roman preferred. Be sure your name, contact information, story title, and word count are at the top of your document and please remember to number your pages.

•Please direct any questions to


The Editors

Monday, August 8, 2011

Maybe They're Wrong And You're Right

Just a little continuation from Friday's fun. Remember this: People are wrong all the time. Sometimes the people who reject you are wrong too.

  • “I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won’t last out the year.” –The editor in charge of business books for Prentice Hall, 1957
  • “There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.” –Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977
  • “You have buried your novel underneath a heap of details which are well done but utterly superfluous." --Editorial rejection of Flaubert's Madame Bovary, c. 1856
  • “Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?” –H.M. Warner, Warner Brothers, 1927
  • “I’m just glad it’ll be Clark Gable who’s falling on his face and not Gary Cooper.” –Gary Cooper on his decision not to take the leading role in “Gone With The Wind.”
  • “Everything that can be invented has been invented.” –Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899
  • “Louis Pasteur’s theory of germs is ridiculous fiction.” –Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology at Toulouse, 1872
  • “The abdomen, the chest, and the brain will forever be shut from the intrusion of the wise and humane surgeon." –Sir John Eric Ericksen, British surgeon, appointed Surgeon-Extraordinary to Queen Victoria 1873
  • “Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau.” –Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics, Yale University, 1929

Friday, August 5, 2011

Let Us Now Console Ourselves

Rude Rejection: "The author of this book is beyond psychiatric help." (Crash by J. G. Ballard)

Rude Rejection: "This will set publishing back 25 years." (The Deer Park by Norman Mailer)

Rude Rejection: "Do you realize, young woman, that you're the first American writer ever to poke fun at sex." (Gentlemen Prefer Blondes by Anita Loos)

Rude Rejection: "My dear sir, I have read your manuscript. Oh, my dear sir." (Lady Windermere's Fan by Oscar Wilde)

Rude Rejection: "We found the heroine as boring as her husband did." (Journey Back to Love by Mary Higgins Clark)

Rude Rejection: "It would be extremely rotten taste, to say nothing of being horribly cruel, should we want to publish it." (The Torrents of Spring by Ernest Hemingway)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

From Today's MailBag

Sent in by an LROD Mouse:

From: "Boston Review"
Date: Recently To: Anonymouse Subject: Your submission to Boston Review
Dear [name],
Thank you for giving us the opportunity to review "Title." We have given your work close consideration and find that it does not suit our present needs. We wish you success in placing it elsewhere. Thank you for thinking of Boston Review.
The Editors of Boston Review
I don't know why, but this one feels a little chilly in its mundane approach to the task at hand. Maybe because it's so warm and sunny out today.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Let's All Chillax

I get impatient waiting. I know, I know; I should suck it up and make peace with the fact that waiting is half of a writer's job. Agent 99 has at least very kindly written to say that she's sorry she hasn't gotten to read my revision yet, she's had a crazy month, and my manuscript is on the top of her pile now. Still: tic-tock, tic-tock. I don't know why; what difference does it make if she reads it now or in a month? If she approves of the revision, and takes it on, that means hurry up and wait to see if she can sell it. If she doesn't want to move forward with it, that means a whole new path (i.e., look for a new agent, put it on the shelf, send it to editors, or whatevs). So, let's all just take a big deep breath and live in the moment together. Om....shanti. Let peace and light bathe our hearts, right? I'll do some paid work and write a little bit on my new nonfiction book. Maybe I'll even take a dip in the ocean a little later. As my mother-in-law (who just had a nice visit with us) would say, "What could be bad?"

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

What Do You Eat While Writing?

Did you guys see this fun stuff on Sunday? I like to eat carrots or celery and peanut butter while writing though a little messy. Or (gluten-free) pretzels and apple juice. You?

Monday, August 1, 2011

On Wishing I Could Quit This Depressing Business

One of the anonymice happened to indicate that s/he had quit writing. Got fed up and gave the whole messy business up.  When I lamented that I wished I could do it to, here was the wise response:
It's not that hard, really. You just have to give up the ego thing.It feels nice to stop jumping through the flaming hoops they set up for you (as if you were a trained poodle in a sideshow). Anyway, after you jump through them they still have some trumped up reason to reject you. Write, if you must. Share your work with friends and others. I sent a story to a friend, she passed it on to her mother, the mother had it read by a reading group she was in. So fifteen people read and discussed it and shared their reactions with me. I haven't submitted it to any magazine. Why bother?
But is it really my ego that's the problem? I think it's that I don't know how to do anything else.  Maybe I am a decent cook; I enjoy concocting something wonderful and creative for friends and family, but I'd never want to do it full time or as a profession.  That would suck the joy right out of it for me.  But, seriously, I can only do one other thing, and that's write. So maybe it's my lack of ego that's the problem. BTW, I've tried quitting before. It never sticks.